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R. Dundas B.Tech. (Electrical), B.Tech. (Business), B.Ed.Ad.Ed.

Was Egerton Ryerson the bad person he has been portrayed? Did he have a role to play in the maltreatment of Indigenous children and their families? Did he establish the residential school system designed to remove the Indian from the Indigenous child?

The answer to these three questions is a resounding NO !!

Ryerson is being made a scapegoat through public opinion fed by deliberate misinformation and half-truths, and someone’s personal agenda.

For the record the following are the brief pertinent facts.

1. Ryerson recognized the need to educate the men, women and children in Canada West and prepare them for an agrarian lifestyle. Without it they would not survive in a colony where land to hunt and fish was rapidly disappearing. In 1842 the Canada West government recognized the need for Ryerson’s concept of government-funded schools with the First Nations people being some of the first participants. The “early” residential schools were built and maintained by the First Nations elders and run by the Methodists. It was what the tribal elders wanted for their children and willingly paid for their education.

2. Teaching was done by qualified facilitators, children could speak their own language, attendance was voluntary, religion was a subject in the curriculum, not the story we often hear today of forced conversion and assimilation, physical abuse and death. The students were often given time away from classes so that they could make a contribution to fill the family larders in preparation for a long winter. Unfortunately, these schools were poorly funded by the governments of the day.

3. Ryerson retired from education in 1876 and died in 1882. He was over 80 years old and pushing up daisies long before the will of the Canadian people (electorate) was acted upon Remove the Indian from the child by teaching it to read and write, and become self-reliant. What existed prior to 1883 was a series of individual church-led operations. Then the Canadian House of Commons, under the direction of the Federal Indian Minister, Duncan Campbell Scott, proceeded to rewrite the Indian Act and radically change the residential school programme. By 1885 the schools were restructured and called industrial schools. These “later” boarding schools destroyed Ryerson’s original programmes for residential schools. They were dissimilar in nature but patterned after the religious run schools. The students were taught a range of trades and were usually located on adjacent reserves. By 1931 the federal government was funding 80 schools as part of the colonization of the Aboriginal population of Canada. The abuse, both physical and psychological, the cruelty, the victimization of students, the mandatory school attendance, the beatings and the deaths we hear about today are the product of Indian Minister Duncan Campbell Scott.

These comments are based on facts are supported by verifiable publications and knowledgeable historians across the Country.

The public, Ryerson graduates from around the globe, and current students deserve to learn the truth about Ryerson, and be given an opportunity to have a say in the process to rename Ryerson University. Regrettably, this will not happen unless the message reaches the vast majority to take action to retain the current name.

The time has come for all Rye types to stand up and voice a united concern. There is the opportunity to retain the Ryerson University name and let the truth exist where it belongs, in the open for all to see and hear. Write to your Chancellor and your Governors to express your dismay and demand a public meeting be held for all concerned.

Regards

R. Dundas

B.Tech. (Electrical), B.Tech. (Business), B.Ed.Ad.Ed.

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